Wednesday, 14 December 2011

More Christmas Fare

Browsing around, I found a wonderful description of a medieval Christmas feast, complete with links to other sites and recipes, at A Book of Gode Cookery.
Below are a couple of recipes in their modern versions; click on the links for the original. 

  • 4 cups honey
  • 1 lb. unseasoned bread crumbs
  • 1 tbs. each ginger & cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground white pepper
  • pinch saffron
  • whole cloves
Bring the honey to a boil and skim off any scum. Keeping the pan over very low heat, stir in the breadcrumbs and spices. When it is a thick, well-blended mass (add more bread crumbs if necessary), remove from heat & let cool slightly, then lay out on a flat surface & press firmly into an evenly shaped square or rectangle, about 3/4 of an inch thick. Let cool, then cut into small squares to serve. Garnish each square by sticking a whole clove in the top center. OPTION: add a few drops of red food coloring when adding the spices, "if thou wolt haue it Red."

  • 3 -4 pears, sliced
  • 3 cups red wine
  • 1 Tbs. cinnamon
  • 1 Tbs. sugar
  • 1 tsp. ginger
  • 2 Tbs. vinegar
  • few threads saffron
Boil pears until they just become tender; drain well. In a separate pot, bring wine and cinnamon to a boil, stirring well. Let cool, then strain. Bring wine back to a boil, then add the sugar, ginger, saffron, and vinegar, stirring until spices are dissolved. Add pears, and allow to cook for several minutes until they soften slightly and change color. Remove from heat. Serve hot or cold. Serves 4. 
This is essentially poached pears in wine, with a little vinegar added for sharpness. The period receipt advises to cook the pears first, then pare and cut them, but I find cutting and paring cooked pears a bit difficult, and prefer to pare and slice them before boiling. "Wardonys" or "Wardens" were a type of English pear not common today - feel free to substitute any slightly hard, not-too-sweet variety. Be sure that the final product is both "poynaunt" (piquant with vinegar) and "dowcet" (sweet).

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